On Saturday morning I left Jerry Cabin Shelter at 7:00 and had a nice uneventful hike. I did see a small snake on the trail (non-poisonous) that reminded me to be careful where I step.
About 1:30 I saw a sign on a tree saying that there would be trail magic until 2:30 at the point where the AT goes under I-26. So I hot-footed it and got there at 2:10. When I walked up trail angel Quiet Paul asked me, “Are you sick?” I had heard in Hot Springs that Norovirus was making hikers sick but I had not been affected…yet. There were six other hikers there and they had all been sick and were waiting for a shuttle into Erwin to take a zero and recuperate. Quiet Paul fixed me a big plate of scrambled eggs and hash browns and I drank a Mountain Dew. I had a good cell signal there so I stayed for a while and made phone calls to my family.
The rest of the day was very scenic with a lot of vistas, especially the 360 degree panorama at Big Bald.
By 7:00 p.m. I had reached a nice campsite at Whistling Gap, so I set up camp there. There were four other hikers there – Chaser, Prometheus, and two guys from Rhode Island.
At about 4:00 a.m. I woke up feeling queasy and thought, “Uh oh, I think I have the virus.” I took two Ciproflaxin just in case it was bacterial but they didn’t do any good. At 6:00 I forced myself to start packing up. Even the simplest tasks, like taking down my tent, were hard – I was incredibly weak.
It was 13.5 miles to Erwin and I decided that I would prefer to be miserable in town in a bed than in my tent out in the woods. It took me 7.5 hours to walk the 13.5 miles! The uphill sections were miserable and I had to stop frequently to rest – something I normally don’t have to do. The only thing I ate all day was two Pop Tarts and half a Snickers bar. I did drink plenty of water, knowing that I needed to stay well hydrated.
At 2:30 I arrived at Johnny’s Nolichucky Hostel and got a single cabin. I caught the 3:00 shuttle to the grocery store, took a two-hour nap, did laundry, and then went to bed. I had a fever and chills during the night but woke up feeling 75% better.
I caught the 9:00 shuttle into town to get a light breakfast at JD’s Market – a gas station, convenience store, and diner. I’m back at the hostel now and I’m going to take my first zero day of the hike so that I can rest and get my strength back.
The Princess is going to meet me soon. I am really looking forward to seeing her. She is bringing me some things that I want to swap out. It’s interesting how quickly you figure out what what works and what doesn’t. For instance, I have two big one-liter water bottles. All I need is one of the bottles plus a one-liter Platypus plastic bottle that is super light and rolls up very small.
Here are photos of Quiet Paul and me on Big Bald.